“Vow”

//“Vow”
“Vow” 2017-08-20T10:26:13+00:00

Alis’ Note
This is basically “Sigyn visits the Abbasid Caliphate”, and it’s told from her point-of-view, so fair warning: there’s an element of, uh, problematic exotification about it. As implied by the narrative, human!Loki does appear middle eastern in the Wyrdverse, which is a reference to the Prose Edda‘s euhemerized history of the æsir as being migrants from Troy (i.e. modern-day Turkey).


The other ásynjur whisper. Look askance at Sigyn as they speak of her husband’s other conquests, the other things that share his bed. Not the women and íviðjur that are to be expected, but all the other sundry beasts and men and monsters.

Sigyn does not stray from her marriage bed, yet she knows her husband does. And she knows where else he slakes his varied lusts. Knows, too, what lying fleeting shapes he takes to do it, what masks he wears to pay the high price of a jötunn dwelling in Ásgarðr’s gilded halls.

He shares his wife’s bed only rarely, visits their home only when his aching hearts cannot bear another moment spent apart. When all the tricks and masks turn from games into humiliation, when the edges of his too-tight skin begin to fray.

Only then does he return. To strip raw of lies and roll with his wife in naked, searing truth. Such ecstasy and freedom that it would tear the world asunder if left to burn for more than but a day or two or three.

Today is such a day. Sigyn rises from her empty bed to dress and wash, opens the door to her small house and sees a beast waiting for her on the grass outside. It is a horse, in that it is more that than any other thing, yet horns twist from out its skull and fiery feathers bloom from its neck and limbs and tail.

When it meets Sigyn’s eyes, its gaze is a vicious, poison green and Sigyn feels the joy and freedom rising in her chest. Until her whole self is flush with it, yet still even still the feeling builds, spilling out over her lips in rushing laughter.

She runs unto the beast. Throwing arms about his neck and laying kisses on the soft, dark skin about his nose (avoiding the long dark tongue that seeks to lick her in return). Then she is climbing onto his back, free of tack and bridle.

“Take me to Miðgarðr,” she says. “To the south, beyond the sea. They have markets there, and silks. I wish to see them. To see all of them. Take me!”

The beast rears, and roars, and Sigyn howls with joy as she feels muscle shift beneath her thighs and wind kiss against her skin.

Together, they ride like flying. The grass vanishing beneath cloven hooves, replaced by wood and bark and leaves. Branches whip at Sigyn’s hair and scratch her skin and she lays herself flat along a smooth and muscled back, arms tight about her beast’s neck and knees pressed into his flank. He takes her through the secrets valleys of the Realms, the dark roads that wind between the branches of the great world tree, Yggdrasill. Sigyn watches every moment of the mad passing, reaches out to rip the leaves off their stems then scatters shredded pieces to the wind.

The journey is not endless. Sometimes Sigyn wishes that it were; wishes her life was nothing but this rush of joy and freedom, skin pressing against skin hard enough to shape two souls into one.

But such things can never last, and soon wood gives way to stone, leaves to laundry, and the trees fades into a strange street between towering mortal buildings. Above, the sky is bright and endless blue, the gold eye of the sun blazing down to bathe the land in heat and haze and smells the likes of which Sigyn has never known.

She dismounts, feet touching upon the strange earth of this new place she has been brought to. When she goes to turn, she feels lithe arms twine around her waist, her cheek brushing up against a braided, neat-clipped beard.

A warm gust of breath curls against Sigyn’s ear. “Is this far enough, my patient wife?”

A smile curls upon her lips. “Never, my wicked husband,” she says. “But you have run long. Let’s rest a little while, and see what mischief we can make amongst these mortals.”

Loki huffs, and reaches down to lace his fingers into hers. When she tilts her mouth towards him, his lips descend to meet it.

She lingers. Just long enough to press her tongue against one sharp and pointed tooth. Until pain lances along her skin, a line of flame that blooms beneath her belly. Until she tastes blood within her mouth, feels Loki’s tongue seek out the sharpness of its flavour.

Then she pulls away, and runs. Hand still linked with her husband’s, and he follows with a laugh. They make their way through strange and tilting streets, towards where Sigyn can hear the heavy buzz of mortal voices.

Her husband promised her a market. As ever, he did not fail to keep his word.

It is a wondrous thing. Nothing like anything in Ásgarðr, nothing like the Miðgarðr of the north. This place is hot and bright and reeking, filled with rainbow fabrics and tawdry brass polished to look like gold. Sigyn weaves her way amongst the people, marvelling at stalls stopping before vendors, running her hands across bright rugs and glass and pots.

“I want this,” she tells her husband, pointing at some gleaming petty thing. “Steal it for me.”

Here, they are with mortals. Here, there is nothing Loki’s deft fingers and sly tongue cannot gain them. It is a game, to thieve and con and barter, trading one pilfered trinket for another twice its price. By the time they have made their way through all the stalls, Sigyn has traded her plain and heavy wools for gold-woven silk that flows like water. Is weighted down with jewellery that would be fit for queen or goddess, were it not all made of glass. Loki, too, has replaced his leather and fur with green brocades cut in strange, alluring styles.

Shouts follow them from the market: angry storekeepers who have realised they have been tricked and robbed. Sigyn places her hand across her mouth to stop from laughing, and follows her husband down a side-street where he finds an inn and charms its keeper with tales of seeking refuge.

He is a scholar, Loki says. Who had ventured north to scribe the tales of Norsemen, the place he found his young and pale-skinned bride, scrabbling in the filth left by the heathens. He rescued her from her dire fate, brought her south into the civilisation of the Caliph. But her family followed, and now they are chased by angry men sent by the girl’s brutal and forbidding father, who wishes to sell his unwilling daughter to a warlord.

The innkeeper and his wife are kindly souls, and Loki’s tongue is silver. When men from the market come with rattling sabres, Sigyn hides with her husband in an alcove, listening to the innkeeper’s wife scold the guards and spurn them from her home. Sigyn must bite her teeth against Loki’s palm to keep from laughing, and she feels his shoulders shake beneath her hands.

“We must leave the mortals something for their kindness,” Sigyn whispers through her giggles.

Loki huffs, but he pulls a torc of gold and gems from off his arm. One of the many copies of the treasure Draupnir, a thousand others like it stuff the Allfather’s vaults to overflowing. In Ásgarðr, it is nothing but trinket, one of thousands. Here, in Miðgarðr, it is wealth enough for a lifetime. Loki leaves it in the alcove when they exit, such that the innkeeper will be sure to find it once his strange guests have gone.

The mortals bring food, and drink; Sigyn and her husband revel in the hospitality, sharing tales of Ásgarðr and even stranger places. Later, as the sun sets, they sit upon the building’s flattened roof and watch as the sky is painted gaudy colours. Sigyn lays her head upon her husband’s chest, feels the fire of him soaking through her skin, listens to the steady beating of his hearts.

“We should stay,” she says. In this land of heat and colour. Of silk and gold and fragrant stews. Of adventure and of kindness.

Loki’s hand stills upon her back. Just for a moment, before resuming its gentle stroking. “I have an oath,” he says, “to my brother.”

Sigyn feels the black hatred stabbing in her gut. “You have one with your wife, also. You swore to give to her the world, or do you forget?”

“I do not,” Loki says, and there is sorrow in his crackling voice. “But my oath with Odin comes before all others. You know this. I cannot leave him.”

“One day you will,” Sigyn says, fingers tightening in the strange fabric of Loki’s stolen tunic. “When he lies dead and rotten on the field of Ragnarøkkr.”

Loki sighs. “Then I will be the same,” he says. “And my corpse will not keep your bed.”

Sigyn huffs. “With your daughter sat upon the throne of death, who are you to say we have made no plots against the foolishness of men? When you wash up on Náströnd’s shore, perhaps your wife and child shall be waiting for you. Shall raise you up and kiss your lips. Break the chains of your wicked fate and set you free, that we might run together through the reborn Realms. Burn them to the ground again and dance within the ashes.”

When Sigyn looks up, Loki’s eyes are closed and there is a smile upon his scarred and crooked lips. All around, the flames dance higher in their lamps.

“Oh, wife,” Loki says, and lays a kiss on Sigyn’s hair. “One day I will hold you to these honeyed words you speak.”

One day, Sigyn thinks, she will do the same.

They spend the night beneath the stars, listening to the sounds of mortals down below. Tomorrow, they will return to Ásgarðr. Tomorrow, Sigyn will walk into their home. She will call for her husband to join her, and he will not answer. When she turns, he will be gone. He will not return for many long and lonely weeks.

Sigyn will wait.

And plot. And dream.